Le Blond & Co – as a publisher!
Click on images to show an enlargement in a new window

1) Hampton Court Palace & Gardens on “Palace Quality Satin Note” 2) Le B...? 3) G Dawe Engr (engraver) and Printer 4) 9 Southampton Pl(ace) New Rd 5) “Somerset House Facing the River” - “A specimen of London Note Views” courtesy of Centre for Ephemera Studies

Le Blond & Co are known mainly as colour printers but prior to 1849, when they were the first company to take a licence from George Baxter to use his patented process, they would have been general printers. They would have printed anything that was required, business cards, invoices, adverts, even offering engraved door plates! Most printing would have been in monochrome but some would be in basic colour using a standard block printing method.

I know that prior to 1849 they had described themselves as printers, engravers, lithographers, general stationers and also print sellers and on a couple of occasions I have even found the company being used as a correspondence address in a newspaper, one for a lady looking for a travelling companion and another looking for temporary accommodation but now I find that Le Blond & co are also publishers.

Recently I came across a print of Hampton Court Palace & Gardens on a small sheet of “Palace Quality Satin Note” that appeared to have the name ‘Le Blond’ under the print. The writing was very feint but I purchased the item thinking it should be clearer when I had it in front of me but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The ‘Le’ was clear and it appeared to show the lower portion of the word of ‘Blond’. Although also feint I could make out on the right hand side ‘9 Southampton Pl(ace) New Rd and to the left G Dawe Engr (engraver) and Printer. This was obviously initially confusing as it couldn’t be ‘our’ Le Blond as they weren’t the printers.

I googled the name and address of Dawe to see if I could find a connection with a Le B……

I can find a G Dawe at 9 Southampton Place listed in the 1843 Post Office London Directory. The British Museum has a very nice engraving “A-You / A-Shing / Native of China at home at the Chinese Collection, Hyde Park Corner” by Dawe dated 1846 (link 1 below) and they state that Dawe flourished between 1841 and 1848. Confusing many of the ‘related objects’ they list with this item are actually by a different G Dawe, George Dawe, a painter of high repute with the dates 1781 – 1829.

A set of G Dawe, Southampton Place prints can be found in an undated book by Geo Henderson called ‘Life of a nobleman’. Major institutions like Yale and Christies have this work noted as by G Dawe of Southampton place and have, I feel, then wrongly attributed that work to the earlier George Dawe (1781 – 1829), the painter rather than our later G Dawe. Of course when the likes of these institutions inadvertently make the wrong connection, others follow suit.

Most of the other work I have found by this printer are all small topographical works.

One such work gave me the connection I was looking for. I found a reference to a small sheet “A specimen of London Note Views” in the “Encyclopedia of Ephemera”, edited by Michael Twyman, which used many images from the Centre for Ephemera Studies. Michael very kindly visited the centre to obtain the hi-definition image shown and gained permission for me to use it, many thanks Michael.

The sheet 120mm x 167 mm had a small engraving of “Somerset House Facing the River” which had the same signatures as my print of Hampton Court but a lot clearer to read, under the centre of the print was Le Blond & Co 4 Walbrook London as well as Dawe’s name and address. At this stage the connection was still unclear as again Dawe is stated as engraver and printer. The foot of the sheet gives us the answer as in a larger font it states “Published by Le Blond & Co 4 Walbrook London and Dawe 9 Southampton Pl New Road

So Le Blond wasn’t the engraver or printer but the publisher, presumably the same as my Hampton Court print.

Realising a connection of Le Blond being noted as publisher I remember something that had been in my research pile for many years. The Victoria & Albert Museum had an online entry (link 2 below) “Strange's pocket scrap book: for young ladies and gentlemen, containing views of all the public places of amusement, watering places, etc. etc. Part V”. I had noted the entry, as Le Blond & Co, was stated as the publisher, something that I had presumed was a mistake and the item might have contained some early Le Blond engravings. Of course we now know the entry is correct as the engraver and printer is noted as G Dawe.

The notes to that listing states “In monthly parts, beautifully engraved on steel, six plates in each part. Price sixpence, plain; coloured, one shilling”. The six plates in this part are listed as Zoological Gardens Regent Park (upper cover), Monument Guildhall, Lake in Regent's Park, Macclesfield Bridge, Marylebone Church and Chatham Barracks which are all signed as per our other prints. If there were six prints to a monthly issue and this was No. V then there must be at least another 24 prints in this series. Perhaps Both Hampton Court and Somerset House are amongst them, the images being used in various guises

What I can’t quite understand is why Le Blond was the publisher? A publisher would market and distribute the prints. Was Dawe a new company at this stage, if so then Le Blond must have been in a similar situation around the mid 1840’s? If Dawe operated from say Manchester I could understand that Le Blond could have given him access to London contacts. It was obviously some degree of a joint venture but of what and why Le Blond were publishers I am not too sure. Michael Twyman suggested that perhaps Dawe just wanted to concentrate on the printing aspects of the business using Le Blond to market and distribute. That is possibly true as the other Dawe prints we have mentioned would have all been commissioned by others and not published by themselves.